July 17, 2018 / 11:21 AM / 3 months ago

Macron starts 'new phase' with unions after fast-and-furious first year

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron told unions and bosses on Tuesday his second year in power would be a “new phase” in his presidency during which he would consult them more after largely ignoring them in his first year, an employers group said.

French President Emmanuel Macron faces union representatives during a meeting at the presidential Elysee palace in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Jean-Francois Badias/Pool via Reuters

“The president said: ‘In the first year of my presidency, I had to unblock certain situations, I went fast, that was my decision and I don’t apologize for it’,” Francois Asselin, the head of the CPME small companies group told reporters after meeting Macron at the Elysee palace.

French President Emmanuel Macron faces union representatives during a meeting at the presidential Elysee palace in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Jean-Francois Badias/Pool via Reuters

“‘Now I’m entering a new phase where I’ll have to rely more on social partners’,” Macron added, according to Asselin.

Macron passed a whirlwind of reforms in his first 12 months, including a major labor code reform which was rammed through parliament via special government decrees, prompting complaints from trade unions.

More economic and social reforms are on his pro-business government’s agenda, including changes to unemployment insurance aimed at encouraging workers to take on new jobs, as well as a pension reform.

Macron, who was elected on a promise to be ‘neither of the left, nor of the right’, has been under pressure to pay more attention to demands from left-wing voters, after moves such as scrapping a wealth tax earned him the tag “president of the rich”, hurting his popularity ratings.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; writing by Michel Rose; editing by Leigh Thomas

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